Sustainability projects funded through High Meadows gift

The second round of initiatives seeking to improve sustainability on Princeton's campus have been funded under the auspices of the University's Sustainability Plan.

Supported by a gift from the High Meadows Foundation, the 16 projects range from a study of the impact of land use and sustainable practices on a regional watershed to an analysis of campus pathway lighting and recommendations for sustainable designs.

Last year, nine requests were funded as part of the research, education and civic engagement section of the Sustainability Plan that was announced in February 2008. The High Meadows Foundation gift of term funds over four years was given to fund initiatives that support goals set forth in that section of the plan. It is one of the plan's three main areas along with greenhouse gas emissions reduction and resource conservation.

Co-founders and trustees of the High Meadows Foundation are Carl Ferenbach, a 1964 Princeton graduate who is a member of the University's Board of Trustees, and his wife, Judy. Funding requests were evaluated by review panels of the Princeton Sustainability Committee using a formal request for proposal process.

Projects funded from the fiscal year 2009 budget are:

Education and research initiatives

• The Princeton Environmental Institute will track the impact of land use and sustainable practices on a regional watershed. The three-year study will be funded to address the effect of the campus on Lake Carnegie water quality. The project includes an in-depth comparative academic study of the renovated Butler College complex, which opens this fall and has both green roofs and conventional roofs. The project director is Eileen Zerba, senior lecturer in ecology and evolutionary biology. Last year, Zerba received High Meadows funding to complete water depth and chemical and biological profiles on Lake Carnegie and compile them into a readily accessible computer database.

• The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will receive two years of funding to look at the mitigation of nitrogen runoff from the campus. A study will address the enhancement of campus stormwater detention basins for improvement in this area. The project director is Peter Jaffee, professor of civil and environmental engineering.

• The Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy will receive funding to undertake a two-year project to examine the influence of present and potential future emissions of air pollutants on global air quality, human health and climate change. It also will explore possible policy mechanisms for mitigating harmful emissions. The project director is Denise Mauzerall, professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs.

• The Program in Environmental Studies will receive one year of funding to refine existing courses and create new courses to meet increasing student demand for classes focused on sustainable food systems and their role in addressing global challenges. The funding is contingent on departmental course approval. The project director is Xenia Morin, lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

• The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will undertake a two-year project to deploy a wireless environmental sensor network over the Princeton campus and develop a new generation of trace gas sensors. The devices are intended to provide information about environmental conditions over the monitored area, including building energy use, water flux and surface flux of carbon dioxide. The project director is Elie Bou-Zeid, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

• The School of Architecture will receive funding for a one-year student project titled "EcoRedux: Design Remedies for a Dying Planet; Educational Web Resources." The project, accompanied by an exhibition that opened in December 2008 in Athens, Greece, will document the disciplinary transformation of sustainable architectural design originating in the 1960s. The project directors are graduate students Lydia Kallipoliti and Alicia Imperiale.

Civic engagement initiatives

• A team of students in the School of Architecture has received funding to work with the facilities department to collect data during the summer of 2009 about the existing campus pathway lighting. At the same time, the team will develop alternative designs for illumination that embrace sustainable technology. The project director is Paul Lewis, assistant professor of architecture.

• The Office of Information Technology will undertake a project titled "Toward Print-Less and Paper-Less Courses: Pilot Amazon Kindle Program." To encourage students to work with documents online rather than rely on printing, the University will collaborate with Amazon to conduct a pilot project to test the effectiveness of Kindle, a wireless reading device. Readings for three courses will be loaded on Kindles. The project directors are Serge Goldstein, associate chief information officer and director of academic services, and Steven Sather, associate chief information officer and director of support services.

• For the second consecutive year, the Office of Sustainability will provide intensive summer training for students who want to contribute to the Student Environmental Communication Network. The five-week course will teach students to explore pressing issues in sustainability through audio and video production. The project director is Shana Weber, manager of the Office of Sustainability.

• Outdoor Action also has received a second year of funding toward its goal of becoming more sustainable, both on and off the trail. The experiential learning program for entering freshmen held each fall before the start of classes will continue to disseminate sustainability information to more than 900 students annually. Last year, the funding provided the support to research and develop a sustainability curriculum for Outdoor Action leaders. The project director is Rick Curtis, director of Outdoor Action.

• Forbes Garden Project, a student initiative to implement sustainable food systems programs, will receive a second year of funding. The garden expanded onto a new location last year at 79 Alexander St. with a larger demonstration garden plot. The garden now features 2,500 square feet of growing beds, a food washing and preparation area, and seating for gatherings and events. The project directors are undergraduates Ruthie Schwab and Elena Dillard.

• The Greening Princeton Farmers Market will receive a second year of funding to generate publicity and cover other operating expenses through fall 2009. Launched in fall 2007, it is considered the first 100 percent student-run local farmers market in the country. It provides members of the University and local communities with an opportunity to purchase fresh locally grown produce and other goods from area farmers and businesses that use sustainable practices. The project directors are undergraduates Ruthie Schwab, Stephanie Hill and Emma Hare.

• The Department of Chemical Engineering will receive support for a one-day sustainability conference featuring Princeton research. This fall 2009 conference is intended to increase awareness and unite an interdisciplinary sustainability movement at Princeton by focusing on sustainable research, specifically in the realms of technology, policy, ethics and economics. The project directors are graduate students Nathalie Pinkerton and Joseph Roy-Mayhew.

• The Office of Sustainability will receive funding for continued internships in areas including communicating sustainability, bike and pedestrian initiatives, Web development, energy solutions research, sustainability metrics research, Princeton Environmental Network coordination and others. The project director is Shana Weber, manager of the Office of Sustainability.

• The School of Engineering and Applied Science's Office of Communications will receive funding to produce a library of student-generated videos to document its current contributions toward a sustainable world. The videos will demonstrate cutting-edge research in energy technologies and conservation efforts aimed at retrofitting aging systems as well as show how the school is preparing a new generation of engineers to play a leadership role in the future of sustainability by teaching them how to explain technology in broadly accessible terms. The project director is Teresa Riordan, senior new media editor in the school.

• Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (SURGE) has received funds to attend PowerShift 2009 in Washington, D.C., in February. Some 50 Princeton students participated in three days of conferences, presentations and leadership training in an effort to impact climate change legislation. The project director is undergraduate Danny Growald.

Faculty, students and staff interested in applying for High Meadows funding should visit the Office of Sustainability website or contact Shana Weber, sustainability manager, at or (609) 258-1518.